Easter Egg Hunts and Activities

BY  |  Friday, Mar 27, 2015 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

happy easter

With Easter just a little more than a week away, here are some fun events to attend in the area!

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Weekend Highlights: Your Guide To Family Fun

BY  |  Friday, Mar 27, 2015 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Three cheers for the weekend! Here’s a round-up of family fun to get you started:

frances england

Just Kidding at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway, NYC) will present the last concert of the season on Saturday at 11:00 AM. See San Francisco indie artist Frances England with a full band and multimedia show performing songs about the joys and challenges of childhood. Tickets are $21 for adults, $14 for kids ($18/$12 for members). Continue Reading

Montclair Film Festival Kidz Shortz Filmmaking Winners Announced

Friday, Mar 27, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Register Now For Montclair Film Festival's Kidz Shortz 2015

The Montclair Film Festival (MFF) today announced the competition winners for the third annual “Kidz Shortz” filmmaking competition.

Kidz Shortz was open to students from any community who entered 4th through 12th grade in September 2014. Forty-seven submissions from students across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland were reviewed by a jury of festival staff and volunteers to determine the 19 winning films based on story, theme, creativity, direction, editing, cinematography and overall filmmaking competence.

“We were proud of all the students who sent us films and thrilled to have received so many wonderful film submissions.“ said MFF Kidz Shortz Coordinator Michelle Anderson. “We can’t wait to share the work of our finalists with our audiences.”

Kidz Shortz 2015 Winners Include:

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Project Life Youth Employment Program

Friday, Mar 27, 2015 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

project lifeProject Life is a youth employment program with the mission of preparing young people for the world of work, through classroom instruction. The ten week program is for teens ages 14 through 18.

Classes are usually held once a week, on Friday, 5 – 8 pm at a Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation location. The classes consist of business education, entrepreneurial skill building, financial literacy, resume writing, contract negotiations, business writing, etc. Classroom instruction is intended to enhance the participant’s skills and knowledge so that they are among the competitive and professional group within our economy. Continue Reading

MHS Project Graduation Benefit Concert Featuring Cranetown

BY  |  Thursday, Mar 26, 2015 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

project graduationMontclair High School will hold its annual Project Graduation party for the MHS Class of 2015 at an undisclosed location on the evening of Tuesday, June 23, immediately after the high school’s graduation ceremony. It’s a fantastic and hugely popular opportunity for all the MHS graduates to come together and celebrate all night long until the sun comes up in a safe and fun environment with all their friends and no alcohol and no driving.

In order to support this graduation party, Project Graduation holds several fundraisers and the next one is sure to offer a great night out. The Project Graduation Benefit Concert featuring Cranetown will take place at Tierney’s on Saturday, April 11. Cranetown plays high energy rock n’ roll to move your soul!

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Montclair Board of Education Holds Governance Workshop

BY  |  Thursday, Mar 26, 2015 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (2)

Dennis Cheesebrow

Dennis Cheesebrow

The Montclair Board of Education held a workshop meeting on March 25 to discuss improving governance and management of the school district.  No official action was taken on any major issue, thought the board did discuss ways of integrating long-term plans along with a transition from an acting superintendent to a permanent one.  Incoming board members Laura Hertzog and Eve Robinson attended the workshop, and though the meeting was open to the public, only one resident attended but did not stay for the entire meeting.

Consultant Dennis Cheesebrow of Teamworks International led the discussion, explaining to the board members the need for them to administer the district more coherently and with a sense of clarity in its mission.  Among his observations were examples of effectively employing data on student performance to improve academics and how a greater understanding of operating expenses — building maintenance, supplies — were key to good governance, as opposed to merely managing resources.  Cheesebrow said that a clearer grasp of applying resources to priorities, with a simplification of basic goals, is how boards function best.

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Sponsored: YMCA of Montclair Camp Registration Begins Saturday

BY  |  Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015 12:00pm

YMCA OF Montclair

Are you ready for a summer of fun and adventure at YMCA of Montclair summer camps? Registration for ages 2-15 begins March 28 at 8 am.

Our camps offer children a safe and nurturing environment where they can feel confident pursuing their passions, learning new skills, making friends and creating lasting memories.

To view our 12 traditional and specialty camp options click here.

YMCA OF Montclair

Registration locations vary depending on the camp. For registration locations, click here.

Register early to ensure your child gets into the camps of their choice.



Giveaway: Passes to Liberty Science Center to See Sesame Street: The Body Exhibit and More

BY  |  Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (27)

Liberty Science Center

Spring break is right around the corner for most of our kids and filling the hours can seem daunting. Liberty Science Center offers tons of fun for all ages and a day full of exciting and interactive learning.

A recently added exhibit, Sesame Street Presents: The Body Exhibit, is in full swing at the center. With its typical flair for hands-on fun, this educational display did not disappoint. There are 17 activities covering three themes: Your Outsides, Your Insides, and Staying Healthy.

Your Wonderful Hands offers kids the opportunity to experiment with puzzles, a hot and cold touch sensation display and a shadow puppet area. The sign language and braille stations teach kids how our hands can also be used for communication. The Your Outsides area also has an amusing area where kids can learn about how their bodies move and all the amazing things it can do. Continue Reading

NY Times’ Frank Bruni On College Admissions Mania at Montclair Library

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (6)


Tis the season for high anxiety if you’re a high school senior or a parent of a senior. In the next few weeks students will find out what colleges accepted their applications. In many cases there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth as many students find out they didn’t get into their first-choice school.

It doesn’t have to be that way according to New York Times op-ed columnist and bestselling author Frank Bruni. On Sunday, March 22 Bruni read from his new book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be” and answered questions from parenting blogger Devon Corneal, as well as audience members as part of the Montclair Public Library’s Open Book/Open Mind series.


“Spend double the amount of time you spend thinking about where you’re going to get into college thinking about how you’re going to use college,” was Bruni’s message to students and parents. “How are you going to use it to amplify your world? Broaden your frame of reference? Take time to survey the landscape of that school and say ‘How am I going to pluck every last leave that I want to pluck and how am I going to till every last patch of earth that I want to till for what it’s worth?’”

The conversation also addressed how college admissions has evolved, a reconsideration of the U.S. News and World Report’s best college rankings, obsessing over acceptance rates, getting out of your comfort zone, considering whether your college career aligns with your interests and the role guidance counselors can play.

The session started off with Bruni reading an excerpt from his book about a young woman who didn’t make Brown University, her first choice. Jill scored a 24 out of 36 on the ACT. She tried to charm the gatekeepers at Brown to no avail, and was also turned down by Middlebury, Tufts and Emory. “I never felt that kind of rejection before,” she told Bruni. Jill ended up going to the University of North Carolina and took a proactive approach, seeking the most interesting classes she could find. “UNC confirmed for her you have more options than you think you do,” said Bruni. Jill graduated and now has a job as a talent recruiter and developer for CollegeHumor Media, an online entertainment company.

How did the college admission process turn into such a frenzy?

“We’re at the tail end of a decade of extraordinary economic pessimism in this country,” Bruni said. There’s a sense the divide between the haves and the have nots is wider than ever. The stakes of ending up on the right side of that divide are more intense than ever.”

“Parents for all the best reasons want to give their kids as much of a leg up as they can in what seems like a really competitive world. And they feel, with good reason, that a name college may be a leg up, so they’re really pressing hard for kids to get there.”

Bruni cited other factors contributing to the hyper-competitive environment and compared the system to when he applied to college in the 1980s. “Back then there were no essay writing camps that charge $14,000 a weekend, there were no private admissions coaches that charge $50,000 to guide you from the eighth grade. The test prep industry was nothing like it is today. Schools have become more like businesses that market themselves. They’re drumming up applications so they can say no to people and then say ‘We have a seven percent acceptance rate.’ And you have more international students applying.”

The Best College Rankings

Corneal asked Bruni to talk about U.S. News and World Report’s best college rankings and the idea the more selective a college is the better it is.

“Selectiveness tells you statistically how hard it is to get into a school,” said Bruni. “But it won’t tell you if that’s going to be the right school for you. U.S. News frustrates me because any ranking says by dint of the ranking that this is the order of quality, that this is the best, this is less good, this is less good,” according to Bruni.

“U.S. News uses a bunch of metrics that are debatably related to the quality of an education,” he said. “They look at how much money is being spent on students, but there’s no way to discriminate whether that money is going into a rec center with a climbing wall or it’s going into something more like classroom instruction.”

“An enormous portion of this work is the result of surveys sent to high school guidance counselors and surveys sent to people on the college level—provosts, presidents and deans of admission. If you’re at school X in the Midwest and you’re being asked to rate school Y in the northeast and you don’t know anyone there or haven’t been on the campus or inside the classroom, you’re rating it based on its reputation—its reputation was its ranking the previous year in U.S. News and World Report. So it’s just a very flawed system to be given that amount of attention.”

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Corneal asked Bruni “What do you wish kids would think about before applying to a school?”

Bruni replied by recommending students first do a reality check. “If you have options—if you’re approaching college and can count on a way to pay for it and you have options and decisions to make, you are so far ahead of the game, to sweat whether you’re getting into a school with a six percent or a 12 percent acceptance rate is kind of perverse.”

He then recommended students venture out of their comfort zone. “I wish that families and children would pause and say that college is this on ramp to adulthood where I can make my world a lot larger. If you have the option, why wouldn’t you think hard about going to a different region of the country if you have known only one region your whole life?”

“If you’ve grown up in a suburb like Montclair, that while being diverse, most people are at a certain economic altitude, why not think about a really good state university where the socioeconomic diversity is going to be considerably more than what it’s going to be at Amherst or Harvard?”

“My older brother went to Amherst, my younger brother went to Dartmouth, my younger sister went to Princeton. I went to University of North Carolina,” said Bruni. “I felt like I emerged from UNC understanding the world in a slightly truer way even though that in itself was a rarified environment. I think that’s a value, I wish people would think about that.”

Ask Yourself: What Do You Want to Do?

Bruni talked about how students need to take a step back and evaluate whether their college career aligns with their interests.

“There is a young women I interviewed in the book, she went to Columbia. She always aspired to go to the place with the lowest acceptance rate. She got there, but she never really paused to think for herself, she just fell in line with what the other kids were doing. She majored in economics and got a fancy job at a management consultancy and then she looked up and thought ‘I am miserable. I didn’t like what I majored in. I don’t want to be a management consultant.’ Now she’s at a not particularly well known medical school in Oregon and she’s very happy because she wants to be a doctor. And she wonders ‘Would I have lost all that time if I paused and not worried about just acing all of these metrics? What if I spent a little time thinking about who I am and what I want apart from an impressive credential?’”

College is What You Make of It

Bruni also shows that you can get a quality education even at a “party college.”

“I spent a little time in the book talking about Arizona State University — which I chose very deliberately because it has the reputation of being the country’s preeminent party school. I profile two students who went there and got extraordinary educations. Because it’s an amazing university and if you go there because you choose to use it that way and connect with it you can get every bit out of ASU that you can get out of any place. We’re just so narrow in our thinking when it comes to higher education.”

During the audience Q&A someone asked Bruni about the role guidance counselors play.

“I talked to a lot of guidance counselors and it’s very different depending on the schools,” he said. “If you’re talking about guidance counselors at Exeter or Choate that’s one thing. If you’re talking about guidance counselor at a good public school, it’s different. What you find at Exeter, or Choate or public schools in certain areas is they feel pressure, by the climate of the school and by the parents to produce. They want—at the end of an admission season—to say ‘we’ve got this many kids into Harvard.’ They would like to be able to talk to kids more about the fit of the school, and they would like to take brand out of the equation, but they literally feel pressured by the climate of the school, by the parents. At public schools that aren’t so rarified, you find counselors who talk the right language and sing the right song, but they complain about swimming against the current of things like U.S. News and World Report.”

The next Open Book/Open Mind event will be on Saturday, May 31 and feature author and New York Times Columnist Charles Blow. To register call the Montclair Public Library at 973-744-0500 ext. 2235.

Photos: Arthur Kobin

Montclair Board of School Estimate Ponders Tax Increase, Staff Cuts For School District

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015 8:30am  |  COMMENTS (180)

The Montclair Board of School Estimate - from left, Board of Education (BOE) President David Deutsch, Mayor Robert Jackson, and Councilors William Hurlock (reading the meeting notice statement) and Sean Spiller.  BOE representative Anne Mernin was absent.

The Montclair Board of School Estimate – from left, Board of Education (BOE) President David Deutsch, Mayor Robert Jackson, and Councilors William Hurlock (reading the meeting notice statement) and Sean Spiller. BOE representative Anne Mernin was absent.

The Montclair Board of School Estimate (BoSE) held its first of three meetings to consider the 2015-16 school district budget adopted by the Board of Education on March 16.  The March 23 meeting of the BoSE, comprised of Mayor Robert Jackson, two township councilors, and two school board members, listen to District Chief Financial Officer Brian Fleischer explain the proposed staff and spend spending cuts and the impact of a possible 4.15 percent tax increase included in the budget. Fleischer’s comments were followed by numerous comments from the public arguing against the cuts and in some cases in favor of an even higher tax increase to stave off the cuts, while others suggested looking for more cuts in administration. Mayor Jackson officiated the meeting while three of his follow BoSE members — school board member Anne Mernin was absent — took it all in.

Fleischer, who also serves as the secretary of the Board of School Estimate, explained that the 2015-16 operating budget for the district was set at $113,560,781, with $1,161,693 savings to mitigate staff cuts. He said the school board used that extra money to restore three elementary-school student assistant counselors (SACs),  eight teachers and eleven paraprofessionals.  The adjustment still left a reduction of ten teachers and 23 paraprofessionals across the board, with two of the teacher reductions necessitating a return to 21 kindergarten classes and an additional kindergarten position at Charles Bullock Elementary School to absorb the four rising classes there. One school secretary and one nursing aide would each be eliminated; the cuts from central services would include the loss of Chief Talent Officer Michelle Russell, two secretaries, and an a superintendent’s assistant. Continue Reading

Featured Comment

Thanks for reporting on this, Steven. I'm looking forward to learning about the Board's vision for the district with the addition of Eve Robinson and Laura Hertzog.

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